Many years ago, I lost one of my best friends in a car/train wreck.
In so many areas of my life, this wonderful woman was my mentor I was devastated when another friend told me of my friend’s death. All who knew me realized that I would be deeply impacted by this loss.
After being told of this incredulous accident, I turned without saying a word and began walking in the gentle autumn rain.As I walked, I lost track of time. On that evening, I couldn’t tell you how far I walked. I was lost in the night.
I don’t remember when I finally decided to walk back to my home to care for my young son. I just walked and walked. I could not understand how God could take this mentor from me. I believed that I was not ready to be without her wisdom or her kindness. She was a guidepost to a broken young mother in a bad marriage. I was undone from this lost. It was my first loss of a close friend to death.
I could not speak of my friend’s death. Months later, I finally gathered enough courage to visit her grave. I was unaware that it was Easter week. I drove over 50 miles to the cemetery where she was buried. When I finally found her grave, the flowers from the funeral were still on her grave. Dead and brown, they were a dismal reminder that death was real. Her grave served as a reminder that the earth had not awakened from its winter slumber. It was a cold and gray April day.
I didn’t know that the flowers and the grave were allowed to stay in this ugly state of affairs until the newly disturbed ground had settled. After this settling, the cemetery keepers would fill the it and plant grass over the site so that it wouldn’t look so bleak.
I was so young and death had no understanding in me, so I became enraged that her grave had been neglected. I went to a local store and bought trash bags and returned the her grave site.
In my business suit and heels, I knelt on the cold ground and began to take those awful ugly dead flowers and their cardboard vases and bag them.
As I pushed these remembrances into the black bags, the tears flowed down my face. I cried, I prayed, I raged at this cloud covered sky…I didn’t understand.
When I quit, I had 5 trash bags full of the symbols of sorrow and loss. I was covered in mud and I had ruined my heels and suit. I didn’t care. I wanted my mentor, my friend. I wanted her back.
As I looked at the grave where the flowers disguised this scar, I saw with new understanding why the flowers were left on the grave.
They were covering a greater ugliness. They hid the sunken ground, the outline of a rectangle that signaled a new grave. It looked like my barren heart. Completely without color or signs of spring, it was hideous.
I couldn’t let it remain like an open wound. Mud and all, I went to a nearby nursery and bought an Easter Lily. I bought a small garden shovel and returned to the cemetery.
By my friend’s small metal grave marker, I dug a hole the size of the pot that housed the lily and I planted this living plant. I planted it with the hope of Spring in mind. I needed to see the color of hope in this scar.
As I filled the new hole where the Lily was planted, I heard a song. At first, I couldn’t remember the name of the song. I knew that I had sung this song somewhere so I began humming the melody…then the words began to flood back into my mind…
“…I’ve just seen Jesus, He’s Alive, I’ve just seen Jesus, my precious Lord’s alive..And I knew that He saw me too as if ’till now, I never lived. All that I’d done before, didn’t matter anymore, I’ve just seen Jesus. And I’ll never be the same again.”
It was at that moment, the season of Easter, Resurrection Sunday, came to life inside of me. Because of this, I would see my friend again.
It took the sweat and the toil of clearing the remains of death and planting a Lily that symbolized the Hope of Easter to bring a fresh and deeper understanding of Life and Death. But, most of all, I had a greater understanding of the reason for that dark day 2000 years ago when Jesus hung on a Cross.
Through the hope of Jesus, I realized that the ugliness of death was just the prelude to the hope of eternal Spring.
The sting of my friend’s death began to give way to Hope and Spring with a new understanding of Eternity.
Now, more than ever, I hold to the Hope of this Season.
My days with Dan in eternity will outnumber any amount of days that I was with him in this life.
I am beginning to feel Spring in my soul again. I am seeing the sky grow brighter in the East. I find myself saying, ” In the summer, I will….” I am planning ahead instead of standing still in this journey.
I am watching the ugliness that a hard winter brought to my soul being gathered like I gathered those dead flowers. I am feeling the renewing of hope like I planted that beautiful Lily. My heart is coming out of its barrenness and looking ahead and all that is waiting there.
My hope is in the Shadow of a Cross and nothing below or above can keep me from knowing the Hope that this Season brings…
One of Dan’s favorite quotes from Scripture was,…” I would see Jesus.” With Hope slowingly restoring my broken heart,I am grateful that I, too, can say with Dan…” I would see Jesus..” Now Dan does……